Advent means, "the coming of" or "the arrival of" something important. The season of Advent in the Christian tradition means the coming of or arrival of the Messiah, who we accept to have been in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Advent is a season of preparation for Christians world wide.
With such a secular emphasis being placed on the time preceding Christmas Day with shopping and sales and parties, children confuse the real meaning of Christmas (the birth of the Christ child) with the tradition of culture (Santa Claus). While the Santa Claus tradition started in Christian tradition with a generous Bishop, Santa unfortunately has become far removed from the true meaning of Christmas. If you would like a story to read to your child which incorporates Santa into the Christian tradition, I recommend "A Special Place for Santa."
Considering all the hoopla that goes with the build up to Christmas with " x number of shopping days until Christmas" and the hype culture places on receiving rather than giving, it is difficult for children to understand the significance and importance of the preparing for the coming Messiah. It is especially difficult because many times parents do not know how to talk with their children about Advent.
The story of the baby born in a manager is what we focus on, but we forget the why. We forget that there were generations anxiously awaiting the coming of this child. We neglect to tell the story before the birth that makes the coming of the Messiah so special, and the real meaning of Christmas loses its significance. To reclaim the anticipation that the season of Advent brings, which enables us to truly celebrate the birth of the Christ, we must build this anticipation and longing. We must go back and try to imagine a time without Christ.
To help parents teach their children the significance of Advent, I will be posting Family Advent Wreath meditations for parents and children to do together as you light a candle each Sunday of Advent. You will need Advent candles. These can be a simple as votive candles placed in a circle, or there are many styles available for purchase. For those families who are in Cushing, we will have some available for you to purchase at the church. I hope this is helpful for those of you with children and teens.
There are five candles total: 3 purple (or blue), 1 pink (rose), and1 white. Any type of candle holders placed in a circle on inline works just fine. There are some available on line, many of these do not have the white candle (Christ candle) which is always placed in the center, so you would need to supply that as well. Here are a few links for Advent Wreaths online:
A simple one from Amazon (you would need to purchase the center Christ candle in white)
A fabric one with attachable candles (for parents of smaller children if you are worried about fire)
One with the nativity figures (candles not included)
There are many others available just search for "advent wreath and candles."